Jimmy Buffett grew up in Mobile, graduating from McGill High School, now McGill-Toolen. His parents, James Sr. and Peets Buffett, lived out their sunset years on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore watching sunsets and Jubilees.

Jimmy Buffett was a Mobilian. He had many friends here. One of them was Jack West. Jack owned the famous Judge Roy Bean’s, a colorful eatery and bar in Daphne. Most folks called the place “Judge’s,” but Jack called his place “The Bean.”  Jack did a world of good with humanitarian work.

I had bought two tickets to “Taste of the Gulf” in Orange Beach in mid-October 1990. It is one of those events where the local restaurants each set up a table featuring their seafood specialties, and the ticketholders walk around sampling whatever they like, as much as they like. I was in seafood heaven.

Between tables, my date and I ran into Jack West, whom I knew. Jack asked my date and me a strange question, “What are you two doing on Halloween night?”  Halloween was about two weeks away, and we told Jack we did not know what we would be doing. Jack got a serious look on his face and said, “Come to The Bean. On Halloween, come to the Bean.”  I said we would.

An hour or so later, as we were leaving the Taste, Jack tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, and he said, “Don’t forget. Come to the Bean on Halloween.”  I again said I would.

In the car headed home, I said, “Jack was sure insistent about our coming to The Bean on Halloween.”

You may have guessed already. I forgot. I plum forgot and went somewhere else on Halloween night. Big mistake.

The next day after Halloween, which is All Saints Day, I ran into two people and had three others call. They all had a similar message: “Jimmy Buffett showed up at Judge Roy Bean’s Halloween night and did an impromptu performance.”

Jack West had brought his old friend Jimmy Buffett to The Bean. He had not been able to tell people in advance, because the crowds would have overflowed the place and ruined the Buffett/Jack West ambiance of the night. But he went the second mile in asking, even insisting, that I come to The Bean on Halloween.          

This was Buffett in the town where his mom and dad were living, where he often stayed when visiting his home area. Buffett without his entourage. Just Buffett. That’s all any secret Parrothead needed. Just Buffett.

Those who did go to Halloween at the Bean say it was a night to remember. A night to remember, which I forgot.

Jim Zeigler is a former Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor of Alabama.

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